VIRTUE Is an E-Bike… No, A Car!
By Bill Moore
Virtue Cycling Solution's Pedalist looks a lot like a car, but it isn't. It's actually a tricycle in a 'tadpole' configuration with two wheels in front and one in the rear that stands as tall as an SUV but is as narrow as a cargo bike. Only one of them exists today, but in this interview with its developer, William Mulyadi, we learn he's hoping to Kickstart production of this unique, electric-powered Velomobile.
Bicycles are wonderful machines. Relatively simple, they are vastly more efficient than just about any other form of mobility one can imagine. But they do have their drawbacks, especially in inclement weather. Rain just seems to take all the fun out of cycling, especially if you commute to work or school.
One approach has been to enclose the bicycle in an aerodynamic shell, creating what is referred to as a velomobile. It's a concept that been around for nearly as long as the bicycle. The trouble is, most velomobiles are based on low-slung, low-profile recumbent designs that are hard to see in traffic and seemingly invisible to drivers unused to watching for them.
What Virtue Cycle Solution's William Mulyadi thought was needed was a velomobile that could be more readily seen, an upright vehicle with plenty of interior cargo space that put the rider at the same eye level as the SUV in the adjacent traffic lane. He calls it the Pedalist and debuted last month at 2014 Interbike, North America's largest bicycle show, held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What is essentially a two-piece polycarbonate body is bolted over a simple tricycle frame, arranged in a 'tadpole' configuration: two wheels in front with a cargo deck between them and a single rear drive wheel behind the rider. The prototype is equipped with a 250W rear hub motor, probably sufficient for operating on level terrain, but likely not enough to handle hills plus the 150 pounds of the trike and body and whatever the rider may weigh.
Virtue's Indonesian-born Mulyadi anticipates that if they put the Pedalist into production -- a decision that will be based on the response they get from an upcoming Kickstarter campaign -- that the base model, which will be offered as a pedal-only model, will sell for the mid-to-high $3000 range. What size electric drive system will be left up to the purchaser to configure. As long as the motor is 750 watts or less, in the USA it would still be considered a "bicycle" by federal law. How individual states classify it is up to their legislatures, as it will be the city councils in the communities in those states.
The Pedalist does come with full LED lighting, both headlights and tail light turn signals. Entrance is through generous sized doors on both sides of the vehicle. While there is a windshield and rear window, there are no side windows, at least in the prototype. In that respect, it's somewhat like Renault's Twizy; an open air vehicle that can protect you from a gentle rain, but you'll need to dress appropriately for colder weather. Of course, being a machine you pedal, the body generates its own heat, so cabin heat isn't necessary; and having those open windows will be a blessing in the heat of summer.
The video is just over 7-minutes in length.
Originally published: 05 Oct 2014
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